London: Thousands of Real Madrid fans donned masks depicting the face of Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of their match with Galatasaray on Wednesday to support the Portuguese star`s bid to win the Ballon d`Or for the second time.
Supporters also held up a huge banner at the northern end of the Santiago Bernabeu saying "Cristiano Ronaldo, Ballon d`Or" alongside an image of the player`s face.
The display comes in the wake of comments from FIFA president Sepp Blatter in which he described Ronaldo as a "commander" and mocked his demeanour on the field, whilst also saying he personally preferred Barcelona`s Lionel Messi as a player.
Those comments were met with consternation in Madrid, not least from Ronaldo himself who described the comments as showing "the respect and consideration that FIFA has for me, for my club and my country."
Ronaldo was not involved on the field for the first time this season as he sat the game out due to a slight muscle strain.
The injury is the only thing that has been able to stop his incredible goalscoring form this season as he has netted 32 times in 22 games for club and country.
That record has made him favourite to be crowned World Player of the Year come January, particularly since FIFA extended the closing date for votes to be cast by two weeks until this Friday, November 29.
Ronaldo won the award in 2008 after guiding Manchester United to Champions League glory, but has finished behind Messi in the voting every year since making his world record breaking move to Madrid four years ago.
Messi and Frenchman Franck Ribery are expected to be Ronaldo`s main rivals for the award this year with the three finalists to be named on December 9 ahead of the awards ceremony in Zurich on January 13.
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